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Let's say I used to watch a particular musician's music videos, and try to do the same dance moves as him while watching the videos. If I am telling someone about that while we are talking about that musician, can I say either of these interchangeably?

  • "I used to watch his music videos and repeat his moves"

  • "I used to watch his music videos and copy his moves"

I think we can use the word "copy" here, but I am not sure if we can use "repeat one's moves" to mean we are copying someone's moves. It doesn't sound very correct to me. I think we can say something like "I repeat these moves 3 times a day", but I feel like we can't use "repeat his moves" to mean "copy his moves".

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    Both are acceptable. Using one or the other is just a matter of opinion. (Personally, I would use repeat if I were following along while watching, but I would use copy if I were incorporating them into a long-term routine of my own. If I did those moves, and nothing else, on my own for months—and without watching him again—either word would make sense.) – Jason Bassford Apr 27 '20 at 21:27
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I agree, "copy" is better in that use. "Repeat" could be used if you copy the moves and then repeat them to practice them.

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  • Thank you. So, for example, let's say I am teaching a PE class an exercise move, can't I say, "Watch me do this move and repeat it (after me)" instead of "Watch me do this move and copy it"? – Fire and Ice Apr 27 '20 at 21:44
  • For that, "copy" fits better. There's just a shade of difference. "Copy" means to duplicate, and "repeat" means to do again. There's a lot of overlap between the meanings. "Repeat after me" would usually refer to speech. – Jack O'Flaherty Apr 27 '20 at 22:20
  • @O’Flaherty So, you mean it is okay if I use “Watch me do this move and repeat it”, but “Watch me do this move and copy it” is better, right? – Fire and Ice Apr 28 '20 at 11:50
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The connotations of "copy" versus "repeat" is person-specific, but in general I would interpret:

Copy:

  • more natural
  • you may be doing the moves in time with the video (similar to mirroring)

Repeat:

  • less natural
  • specifically sounds like you are repeatedly doing the moves, probably while the video is paused

Personally I have a preference for "copy" although both make sense.

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I would say both are good. It's simply your choice as both imply the same thing. Of course this would depend on the context. Repeating after someone would be for you to learn something, but copying given for example an exam context would be cheating.

I think it just boils down to what the situation is.

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